In all the time I’ve been sharing little pieces of my world with you, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned how much I like to sing. How from sixth grade through college, I was always in at least two choirs at a time, and it was always my favorite part of the day. How if there’s anything in the world that I’ve logged close to the magical ten thousand hours doing and hardly even noticed, it’s singing. How when I used to be a normal first-world adult with a car, I would cruise up the Garden State Parkway and bust a lung belting the harmonies to every song that’s ever been popular or unpopular in my lifetime. How the seven-year-old and I spent an hour last Friday night watching YouTube videos of the King’s College Choir, Renee Fleming, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Christmas carols, and how we were each trying to hide the tears in our eyes from the other. How even as I write this, I’m listening to a full-on geek-out alto training tape for the full-on geek-out Messiah sing-in I’m going to at Lincoln Center in a few weeks. How that was the very first thing I put on my calendar for our return to the states in December and January.
I don’t know how I could have left it out and thought you knew me anyway. It’s one of those lifelong fundamentals, like old friends and freckles and family recipes, that always resurfaces even if it’s been in remission for a while, and always colors the way you walk through the world. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t sung as part of a group for more than a decade that I left it out of the storyline. It belongs there, though. So here you have it.
One of the great things about living in a new, far-away place is that it frees you up both emotionally and physically to let your various freak flags fly. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I recently joined a choir again. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s once again one of my favorite parts of the week. It’s full of interesting women from all over the world who are part of my new totally rad, wildly overqualified peer group — the expat wives. The Expat Wives. That definitely sounds like a band I’d suck down a two-drink minimum to go see. Or at least a reality show that I’d never deign to watch. Don’t you think?
As a bonus, my new little choir is the source of this fantastic twist on tomato soup, a welcome addition to the World Vegan Month collection. It came via our Australian director from an Aussie women’s magazine that I’d never heard of but suddenly have a love-at-first-bite thing going with. If you use canned tomatoes, it makes an approachable yet surprisingly nuanced dinner straight from the pantry in 45 minutes. Approachable yet surprisingly nuanced. It’s exactly the kind of meal should expect from the totally rad, wildly overqualified women who brought it to you. If I do say so myself. And if you believe that one, have I got a song for you.
Recipe: Spiced Tomato Soup with Red Lentils
This recipe is adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly via a friend. I’ve never actually seen this magazine. The website looks perfectly nice, but in the event it is a cover site for a porn ring or a right-wing propagandist, I apologize. How’s that for a recipe headnote?
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 pounds peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes (canned are fine, even preferable in the off-season)
- 4 cups vegetable stock (or water)
- 1/2 cup uncooked red lentils, rinsed well and drained
- 1 generous teaspoon salt (if using unsalted tomatoes)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- In a 5-quart heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and garam masala and cook, stirring, one minute more.
- Add the sambal oelek, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, stock or water, lentils, sugar, and cilantro, and stir to combine well.
- Raise the heat to high to bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until lentils are very tender and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4